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Small Business Employee Benefits and HR Blog

What Does U.S. Healthcare Reform Currently Look Like

health care reform currentlyToday no one can tell what final U.S. healthcare reform might entail.  But now that we have a bill being discussed in the Senate, and a companion bill in the House, we can see a consensus emerging on a few key issues:

1. Personal vs Employer Health Insurance - People should be able to keep their health insurance coverage independent of their employment

2. Guaranteed-issue personal health insurance policies - Carriers will not be allowed to deny coverage based on preexisting conditions, but may be allowed to charge more for age, preexisting conditions, and other factors. This will replace most state-guaranteed (risk pool) coverage and remove the major objection for employers switching from group to personal plans.

3. Employer Pre-Tax Payment and Reimbursement of Premiums - Employers will remain the "payer" of most health insurance premiums either through direct payment to carriers or reimbursement of personal policy premiums. This is currently the status quo and nothing in the proposed legislation seems to want change this.

4. Employee Pre-Tax Payment of Premiums through POP Plans - Employees will be allowed to redirect a fixed amount of their pre-tax salary to pay for (or reimburse) the premium on a personal health policy. Eleven (11) states have already mandate that employers provide this upon request by even a single employee. This is also currently the status quo and nothing in the proposed legislation seems to want change this.

No one can say today what final U.S. healthcare reform will look like, or even confirm that there will be a healthcare reform bill in 2009. But, at least today, all signs are very positive for defined contribution, employer-funded, personal health benefits.
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